ACLU challenges gene patents

Interesting times once again:

ACLU Challenges Patents On Breast Cancer Genes (5/12/2009)

Gene Patents Stifle Patient Access To Medical Care And Critical Research

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (PUBPAT) filed a lawsuit today charging that patents on two human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer stifle research that could lead to cures and limit women’s options regarding their medical care. Mutations along the genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, are responsible for most cases of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. The lawsuit argues that the patents on these genes are unconstitutional and invalid….

Plaintiffs include the American College of Medical Genetics, Association for Molecular Pathology, Cancer groups, scientists, and individuals.  Even the Our Bodies Ourselves Collective is a plaintiff!

I know this has also been an issue around personal genomics–because the patents can be a huge problem for personal genomics companies who might want to include such testing in their collection of features.   I’m actually surpised to not see one of them on there.  At one meeting I attended personal genomics companies were talking about the barriers of so many patents and if there were going to be creative ways to bulk license them for their purposes.  But that seemed unlikely to me.

This, though, could happen–to abolish the patents.  Wowsa.  I’m gonna keep an eye on this.

EDIT: CNN has a story on this here. http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/05/12/us.genes.lawsuit/index.html

EDIT2: NYT article on the same thing.  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/13/health/13patent.html?_r=1&hpw

EDIT3: GenomeWeb covers it. http://www.genomeweb.com/dxpgx/aclu-files-suit-against-myriad-over-brca-patents

3 thoughts on “ACLU challenges gene patents

  1. Doru Georgescu

    Owners whould understand that their property is at the mercy of their fellow citizens. And citizens should understand that some things should be owned, and others should not. There is a lot of gray required here. Of course, important knowledge, like Euclid’s Theorem, English alphabet, and our genes, should be public property. And I believe they will be.

  2. Mary

    I’m curious to see comments from patient groups who actually may have patents. I think they did it to prevent monopolization by companies, but it also offers them some control over the quality of tests.

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